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Paving the way for transgenic schistosomes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 September 2011

Institute for Parasitology, Justus-Liebig-University, 35392 Giessen, Germany
Institute for Parasitology, Justus-Liebig-University, 35392 Giessen, Germany


In parasitological research, significant progress has been made with respect to genomics and transcriptomics but transgenic systems for functional gene analyses are mainly restricted to the protozoan field. Gene insertion and knockout strategies can be applied to parasitic protozoa as well as gene silencing by RNA interference (RNAi). By contrast, research on parasitic helminthes still lags behind. Along with the major advances in genome and transcriptome analyses e.g. for schistosomes, methods for the functional characterization of genes of interest are still in their initial phase and have to be elaborated now, at the beginning of the post-genomic era. In this review we will summarize attempts made in the last decade regarding the establishment of protocols to transiently and stably transform or transfect schistosomes. Besides approaches using particle bombardment, electroporation or virus-based infection strateies to introduce DNA constructs into adult and larval schistosome stages to express reporter genes, first approaches have also been made in establishing protocols based on soaking, lipofection, and/or electroporation for RNA interference to silence gene activity. Although in these cases remarkable progress can be seen, the schistosome community eagerly awaits major breakthroughs especially with respect to stable transformation, but also for silencing or knock-down strategies for every schistosome gene of interest.

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Paving the way for transgenic schistosomes
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